This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends developing and implementing information technology to enhance the dissemination of information for sustainable development.
The rapid advancement in information technology (IT) in recent years continues to transform the global economy through its effects on information processing, productivity and competitiveness. Technology advances and the low cost and miniaturization of microchips, a key component of information technology, have offered new opportunities in terms of access to and use of information technology. This has led to the spread of information technology in all aspects of social and economic activities in both industrialized and developing countries.
The revolution in information technology continues to transform the global economy through its effects on information processing, productivity and competitiveness. This revolution affects all aspects of society. As recently noted, the revolution "... has only just begun, but already it's starting to overwhelm us. It's outstripping our capacity to cope, antiquating our laws, transforming our mores, reshuffling our economy, reordering our priorities, redefining our workplaces, invading our privacy, and shifting our concept of reality". There is a consensus that the transition to the twenty-first century will witness a quantum leap in the development and exploitation of information technologies, with corresponding ramifications for social and economic organization, the environment, culture and the development of a global information infrastructure. The key issues of concern to policy-makers and international organizations are the extent to which this major transformation has benefited all aspects of society and the ways and means of achieving a truly global information infrastructure. Thus, it is timely for the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development to give greater attention in its future work programme to the opportunities offered and challenges posed by the rapidly evolving information society.
The high cost of energy, the low capacity of the power-generation infrastructure, and the poor maintenance of power supply systems have also been major impediments to the application and diffusion of information technology systems in a number of developing countries. In many low-income developing countries, for example, there are frequent power supply interruptions and power surges large enough to cause serious damage to information technology systems and result in the loss of information.